As the leading dedicated operator of food and beverage brands at airports and railway stations in 32 countries across the world, SSP UK really understands the value of the ‘lunchtime’ opportunity for people on the move.
Upper Crust, a brand that SSP UK created specifically for the travel market, has been serving its freshly baked baguettes for 26 years. Recognising that its customers are looking for a simple lunch solution served quickly to them, SSP UK imposes strict guidelines at Upper Crust, and its other brands within the portfolio, to ensure that no customer queues longer than two minutes from joining the queue to being served.
The baguette range includes popular classics clearly displayed behind glass cabinets to enable swift decision making and the baguettes are sold in individual baguette sleeves for easy eating and on-the-go portability. Upper Crust can also promise that its baguettes are on sale for a maximum of three hours after being made, so freshness is guaranteed every time.
Upper Crust is present at 60 stations and 4 airports in the UK. At airports, lunchtimes can be a ‘moveable feast’, as Britta Ashu, Brand Manager at Upper Crust, comments: “At Upper Crust and across all of our brands at airports within the SSP UK portfolio, we recognise the different time zones of our passengers and tweak our menus accordingly to ensure that lunchtime snacks are available throughout the day.”
Familiar favourites, such as Honey Roast Ham and Taw Valley cheddar cheese baguette, continue to be the best-sellers and account for 16% of total sales. However, SSP UK also knows that consumers are still looking for variety in their eating patterns, particularly if they regularly travel, and therefore introduce new seasonal products throughout the year to give them more choice, which can account for up to 20% of sales.
A recent example of this is the new Mexican Fiesta range at Upper Crust, launched in October 2009. According to Mintel*, the UK Mexican food market has grown by 6% per annum since 2002 to reach an estimated £250 million in 2010 and SSP UK has responded to this consumer trend. Upper Crust celebrated the launch by making lunchtime a bit more fun and inter-active by inviting
travellers passing through Victoria station to perform live with a mariachi band
during the busy lunchtime period.
The most viewed performance on http://www.youtube.com/TheMexFactor will win a luxury holiday for two to Mexico as well as vouchers to spend at SSP UK units across the UK.
Britta Ashu comments: “While we know that our core range continues to be our best-sellers at lunch, we also pride ourselves on product innovation and continue to monitor and respond to customer trends. In 2010, we predict that the football fever will dominate the months of June and July next year, so we are looking to develop a range of baguettes in celebration of the World Cup.”
Camden Food Co. was introduced to the travel market by SSP UK in 2007 in response to research which showed that 59% of consumers on-the-go were looking for “healthy with indulgence” lunch options. Its philosophy about helping people to ‘eat right’ while on the move was acknowledged when it won En Route Retailer of the Year at the Sammies Awards in the same year shortly after its launch.
Now present at 11 train stations, Camden Food Co provides a solution for the more nutrition-conscious lunchtime crowd who do not want to compromise their healthy eating habits when on the move. Camden Food Co works in partnership with the Food Standards Agency labelling all of its products with calorie content information so consumers are able to make an informed choice.
In July this year, Camden Food Co. introduced a range of seven new salads in response to the fact that its customers were looking for fresh, healthy and interesting lunchtime solutions during the summer months. Influenced by cuisines around the world, the extensive selection of vegetarian, meat, fish and carb-free salads contain an individual pot of dressing, giving consumers the choice about how indulgent they want to be.
Like Upper Crust, classic sandwiches such as Egg Mayo, Cheese Salad and Tuna Mayonnaise still dominate the lunchtime trade. Understandably sales patterns show that in the winter months, more consumers are looking for a warming lunch option with soups becoming increasingly popular at this time of day providing the perfect antidote for standing on a cold wintry platform. With less than 400 calories within each soup, Camden Food Co. continues to innovate this hot and healthy range with new flavours such as Thai Chicken Soup, Miso and Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Cumin on the horizon.
Camden Food Co. Brand Manager Duncan Reilly comments about the year ahead: “In 2010, we’re looking forward to continue to surprise and delight our customers with new additions to our fresh and delicious menu. We will be introducing more hot meals to our lunchtime menu such as a Chicken Tagine and Mushroom Risotto which gives our customers a complete nutritional meal in a pot.”
Within a travel environment, be it on a railway station or an airport, lunchtime can be any time of day. SSP UK’s extensive portfolio, with brands ranging from Upper Crust, Delice de France, Pasty Shop, Whistlestop, Caffè Ritazza and Camden Food Co, as well as franchise operated Burger King and
M&S Simply Food, ensures passengers are able to find the lunchtime snack they want, at whatever time of day they choose.
* Mintel report – Mexican and Tex-Mex Foods, September 2007